Brisbane-based Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG) is building more sustainable batteries that are ultra-fast-charging, with a life up to three times longer than lithium-ion batteries, using technology developed at The University of Queensland (UQ). They’re graphene aluminum-ion batteries, no lithium required.
GMG recently listed on Canada’s TSX Venture Exchange and will manufacture battery prototypes for phones, laptops, watches, electric vehicles (EVs), and grid storage under a research agreement with UQ scientists from the Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).
Testing showed rechargeable graphene aluminum ion batteries had a battery life of up to three times that of current leading lithium-ion batteries, and higher power density meant they charged up to 70 times faster. Furthermore, the batteries are rechargeable for a larger number of cycles without deteriorating performance and are easier to recycle, reducing the potential for harmful metals to leak into the environment.
This nanotech-driven battery invention could kick range anxiety, fast-charging, and recycling fears to the curb. It could even be the weight that tips the scales in favor of swift EV mass adoption worldwide. And it delivers better performance, without the cooling, heating, or rare-earth problems lithium-ions face.
GMG plans to bring its graphene aluminum-ion coin cells to the market in late 2021 or early 2022, with automotive pouch cells to roll out in early 2024. It hasn’t established a supply deal with a significant manufacturer yet, but the company said:
We will bring the coin cell to market first. It recharges in less than a minute, and it has three times the energy of lithium. We are not tied into big brands yet, but this could go into an Apple iPhone and charge it in seconds.
In experiments performed by the AIBN scientists at the UQ, coin cell prototypes delivered the following key performance figures:
The first of the two key performance figures, the monster charge rate, is the real head-turner for an EV manufacturer.
Craig Nicol, GMG managing director, said in an interview with Forbes:
It changes so fast it’s basically a supercapacitor. It charges a coin cell in less than 10 seconds.
And so far, there are no temperature problems. Twenty percent of a lithium-ion battery pack (in a vehicle) is to do with cooling them. There is a very high chance that we won’t need that cooling or heating at all. It does not overheat, and it nicely operates below zero so far in testing. They don’t need circuits for cooling or heating, which currently accounts for about 80kg in a 100kWh pack.
Meaning, that’s an extra 80kg of space in the envelope to add additional cells.
Manufacturers could even industrialize the new cell technology to fit inside current lithium-ion housings.
Ours will be the same shape and voltage as the current lithium-ion cells, or we can move to whatever shape is necessary. It’s a direct replacement that charges so fast it’s basically a supercapacitor. Some lithium-ion cells can’t do more than 1.5-2 amps, or you can blow up the battery, but our technology has no theoretical limit.
However, there’s a catch – the charging infrastructure. To illustrate:
Getting our infrastructure ready to handle fast-charging cars is a colossal challenge. Nevertheless, it’s not impossible – we have the technology within our grasp.